Conservative lawmakers and thought leaders who backed President Bush’s 2004 reelection are now speaking up with their liberal counterparts about the Bush administration’s use of anti-terrorism legislation to deny asylum to many immigrants rightfully seeking that status.
Many international asylum applicants, who in no way resemble terrorists, are being direly affected by the administration’s broad application of anti-terrorism legislation. Individuals such as Hmong refugees who fought with the U.S. in the Vietnam War, healthcare workers in Columbia and victims of rebel violence in Liberia are having their applications rejected on the grounds that they provided support to terrorists.
“[This] is causing heroes who fought for the United States to be afraid of being deported,” said Michael Horowitz, a fellow at the Hudson Institute and lawyer for the former Reagan administration.
Gary Bauer, president of the conservative public policy group, American Values, agrees with Horowitz’s statement: “The enforcement of it has lapsed into ludicrousy,” says Bauer. “The concept of material support is being distorted, and even the definition of the term ‘terrorism’ is being turned on its ear.”
In 2000, 72,000 asylum seekers were allowed into the U.S. That number has since drastically dropped. In 2003, for example, a mere 28,000 refugee applicants were allowed into the U.S.; last year, only 25,257 applicants were granted asylum.
Over the past two years, say critics of the administration’s actions, the Department of Homeland Security has refused a range of requests to create more flexible waivers for individuals such as Hmong and Montagnards who fought with the U.S. in the Vietnam War. The solution to this problem, say these critics, is working with the new Democratic majority.
“The key to ending these policies is in the hands of the new Democratic majority” said Horowitz. “I do not believe this is a sustainable policy.”